Community remembers and honors volunteer firefighters killed in plane crash

ELWOOD, Ind. – There was a moving tribute through the streets of Madison County Tuesday, not even 24 hours after two volunteer firefighters were killed in a plane crash.

Law enforcement officials escorted the bodies of 31-year-old David Wittkamper and Kyle Hibst, who would have turned 32 Tuesday. Both were volunteers with the Pipe Creek Fire Department.

Authorities were called to the scene near 5904 S. Western Ave. shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the planes involved were a single-engine Cessna 150 and a Cessna 525 Citation Jet. The FAA believes the Cessna 150 was attempting to take off about 5:09 p.m. when it struck the tail of the Citation, which had just landed.

Wittkamper worked for more than a decade at Red Gold Tomatoes in Elwood as a forklift driver.

“David was a selfless individual,” said Eddie Wood, the warehouse manager and Wittkamper’s supervisor. “He always had a smile on his face, always willing to help anyone who’d ask. And that really being a firefighter was what David was. He was just a selfless guy.”

Both men leave behind wives. Hibst also had a young son and officials say both he and his wife were members of the fire department and worked at Anytime Fitness.

“Kyle was such a great guy and it was kind of contagious,” said Tim Ingle, the vice president of human resources for Red Gold Tomatoes who worked out at Anytime Fitness.

The NTSB is continuing its investigation as a volunteer fire hall honors and remembers Wittkamper and Hibst.

“I think a small community relies on the volunteer firefighters and their commitment,” Wood said. “It’s volunteer. They do it on their own time.”

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